Skip to main content

Fulton J. Sheen letters to Edith Grissing regarding contributions to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith

Identifier: Mss 0059

Scope and Contents

The Fulton J. Sheen letters to Edith Grissing regarding contributions to the Society of the Propagation of the Faith consists of approximately 40 letters, written from 1957-1971. The letters primarily contain thanks for Edith Grissing's extensive financial contributions to the Society, and Bishop Fulton often acknowledges amounts given and comments on the potential benefits of the gifts to the Society's missionary work. Some letters refer to contracts and procedures for transferral of funds, which include outright financial gifts of money as well as annuities and investments. Most of the letters are typed and on Society letterhead, but there are a few handwritten notes, undated. All are signed by Fulton J. Sheen.


  • 1957-1971

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

All materials available in this collection (unless otherwise noted) are the property of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center and Seton Hall University, which reserves the right to limit access to or reproduction of these materials. Reproduction of materials or content is subject to United States copyright restrictions and may be subject to federal or state privacy regulations. Permission to publish exact reproductions must be obtained from the Director of the Archives and Special Collections Center.

Biographical / Historical

Fulton J. Sheen was born 8 May 1895 in El Paso, Ill. He attended St. Viator College in Bourbonnais, Ill., Saint Paul Seminary in Minn., from which he was ordained 20 September 1919, the Catholic University of America, the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, from which he received a doctorate of philosophy, and then the Pontificium Collegium Internationale Angelicum in Rome, from which he received a doctorate in sacred theology. Rev. Sheen was briefly a parish priest at St. Patrick's church in the Diocese of Peoria before returning to the Catholic University of America to teach. In 1930 Rev. Sheen began a weekly radio broadcast called the Catholic Hour, which was extremely popular for the next twenty years. In 1951, Rev. Sheen transitioned to television with Life is Worth Living, a weekly show filmed in New York City, which was broadcast until 1957. In 1958, Rev. Sheen became the Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and remained there until 1966, when he was appointed Bishop of Rochester on 26 October. Bishop Sheen resigned in 1969, and was then appointed Archbishop of the Titular See of Newport (Wales) by Pope Paul VI. Archbishop Sheen died 9 December 1979 of heart disease and was interred at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.

Through his radio and television shows, Fulton J. Sheen reached a wide audience and is considered the first televangelist. He was charismatic and humorous, and offered life lessons. He also addressed political issues, speaking out strongly against Hitler, Stalin, and the Vietnam War. He wrote more than 70 books as well as numerous articles and columns. The Cause for Canonization of Fulton Sheen was opened in 2002, and in 2012 the Vatican recognized his life as one of heroic virtue, an important step in the canonization process.

The Society for the Propagation of the Faith was started in 1822 as a way to seek prayer and support for Catholic missionary work. The goals of the Society are to raise awareness of the needs of the church, encourage prayer for missions and the people they serve, and encourage monetary donation to missions. Missions are considered to be places where the church does not exist or the Gospels have not been preached, where the church is not firmly established, or where the church is harassed by governments. Monetary donations go to mission churches and chapels, Catholic schools, orphanages, medical clinics, and other aspects of missionary work, as well as the administration of the Society itself. The Society, which is headquartered in New York City, is now a part of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.

Edith C. Grissing was born July 1891 in New Jersey. She lived in Montclair, NJ, probably with her mother Kathleen. She had a sister, who married Joseph J. Bahr of Verona, NJ, and a brother, Edward L. Grissing of Glen Head, NY. She donated substantial amounts of money to the Society of the Propagation of the Faith from at least 1957-1970, although the total amount and source of the funds is unknown, and asked that after her death, in lieu of flowers, contributions to the Society be made in her name. Edith C. Grissing died 23 May 1979.

Sources: Fulton J. Sheen, Wikipedia article: accessed 2 April 2013. Society for the Propagation of the Faith welcome page, Pontifical Mission Societies of the United States:, accessed 2 April 2013. Grissing, Edith C. Obituary 5 -- no title. (1979, May 22). New York Times (1923-Current File). Retrieved from, 2 April 2013.


40 items (Box 3 329/B/2;)

Language of Materials



Fulton J. Sheen was a popular radio and television host of the Catholic Hour and Life is Worth Living, is considered the first televangelist, and was the director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith from 1958-1966. The Society of the Propagation of the Faith supports the missions of the Catholic Church around the world. Edith C. Grissing of Montclair, NJ, made substantial contributions to the Society from at least 1957-1970. The Fulton J. Sheen letters to Edith Grissing regarding contributions to the Society of the Propagation of the Faith consist of approximately 40 letters, from 1957-1971, which were written by Fulton Sheen to personally acknowledge and thank Edith Grissing for her financial contributions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection is the gift of Edith C. Grissing to the Archives and Special Collections Center via the New Jersey Catholic Historical Records Commission in 1981. Accession number 1981.0003.

Related Materials

William T. and Marie J. Henderson family papers, Mss 0008, in the Monsignor Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center, Walsh Library, Seton Hall University.

Processing Information

Collection was processed by the Archives and Special Collections Center in the 1980s. New title and finding aid created by Tracy M. Jackson, 2013.

Fulton J. Sheen letters to Edith Grissing regarding contributions to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, 1957-1971
Tracy M. Jackson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the The Monsignor Field Archives & Special Collection Center Repository

Archives, Walsh Library
400 South Orange Ave
South Orange NJ 07079 US